Year End 2016
First up, let me add my voice to the choir. Fuck you, 2016.
Keith Emerson AND Greg Lake
Rudy Van Gelder
and of course Carrie Fisher
This is nowhere near exhaustive, but somehow indicative of what this year took from us. It's not just "oh how sad, this famous person died". These were people who provided more than art or entertainment, they said important things, they opened doors, showed possibilities, proved individuality could thrive. And in far too many cases, left us too soon. So, yeah, fuck you 2016.
Now, about my year.
I've always felt like I was a pretty stable person emotionally. Not too many highs or lows. Always pretty even keel. Of course, every once in a while "Red Victor" would show up, but not often. And every so often I'll be reduced to a blubbering mess, but again, not often. It seems, however, that I'm becoming much more manic. I could blame work (and largely do). I'm usually so spent, and have had the life sucked out of me so thoroughly that I've little left to give to things that matter to me. Sure, that's my story for why I can barely manage things most nights. But there are rare bursts - of energy, of creativity, of positivity - that result in me actually getting some work done. Like when I wrote a string quartet in 4 days over Memorial Day Weekend (ok, so I had the basic theme to the Lullaby movement before that, but it was severely re-harmonized during that 4 day stretch, so I'm sticking with my "I wrote it in 4 days" version). Or when I re-orchestrated a bunch of pieces around July 4. Seems like I did all my best work over about an eight day stretch. The rest of the year feels like a bust. I'd like to find a way to get back to a more even keel, level out the highs and lows so that I can be somewhat productive all the time. We'll see how that goes.
My one real accomplishment was "Merely Clever", the new recording. The good thing is it feels like an improvement over previous efforts. But I've just been kind of stuck since I finished it. Did the usual round of gigs - Exit 12, Monks' Monks, some cool pickup jazz gigs. Did a little recording with the Monks. Scored a bargain on a guitar.
$260 shipped, with a case. Thought it would be a "beater" type guitar, but used it on a couple of jazz gigs and it turns out it's a real keeper. Long scale (25.5) semi, which is a cool variation. Even though the coming year marks 40 years with my Ibanez Strat and I want to use that as much as possible, I have a feeling this one will find it's way to a bunch of gigs as well.
Listening? I did do a lot of symphony listening, as I had hoped. Built up quite a library in the process. Dvorak, Berwald, Liszt, Borodin, Glazunov. I'm starting to come around on Vaughan Williams, and actually dug more Holst, in contradiction to what I wrote at the end of last year. Also discovered Hal McKusick - my new 6th favorite alto player (Bird, Ornette, Desmond, Hodges, Keith Gurland, Hal, Cannonball - probably Phil Woods). Dug into more Blakey and Cannonball as my tastes continue to coalesce around very mainstream, swinging types of things. Sam Jones and Louis Hayes - maybe my favorite rhythm section. The Gerry Mulligan Concert Band was also a revelation this year (as I was digging through more and more Mulligan). Also finally found the good Charlie Byrd. I feel bad I ever had harsh things to say about him. Hearing his earlier recordings I understood that he struggled with tone as years went by through no fault of his own, but dealing with drummers and equipment. I would assume the same for certain harmonic tendencies - his early recordings a really great. At least I finally came around.
Reading? I feel like I was always reading something, but somehow nothing jumps out. Star Trek Legacies series started out really good, ended up just ok. Read the first volume of "Women of Wonder" which I really enjoyed. Second volume is staring at me. I'll get to it, I promise. I feel like trying to get through my "Columbia History of the World" again. Of course, I still haven't made it all the way through "Brahms and the Principal of Developing Variation". I think this is the third time I've started it. Made it farther this time. Maybe I can push through it.
Watching? Last season of Castle, which I'll do my best to forget. Rogue One. Rush's "Time Stand Still" documentary left me in tears.
We did get to spend a fair amount of time out doors. Found some nice parks nearby in NJ. Had some great walks on SI, though, especially in Blue Heron Park.
Nice vacation in New Paltz, where we experienced 3 seasons in 3 days.
Of course, the "kids" are all great.
I'm just glad to be rid of this year. It feels hard to look forward to what's ahead, but you know, these folks (and not always just the characters they portrayed) can offer words of wisdom.
What do they give us?